Max Scherzer (15-7, 2.89) vs. Seth Lugo (2-2, 2.60) – 8:08 p.m, ESPN
Due to the off day yesterday, Scherzer is able to make this start on Sunday night on normal rest. Against the Phillies on Tuesday, Scherzer went eight innings, gave up two runs on three hits, struck out 11, and walked one on 102 pitches as he picked up his team high 15th win.
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Scherzer led all of Major League Baseball in the month of August in strikeouts with 51 and held opponents to a .170 batting average (lowest in any month this season). Since the break, the ace is 5-1 with a 2.60 ERA over his last eight starts. Out of his 15 wins this season, ten of them have come on the road (10-4, 3.28 ERA).
Since he joined the Washington Nationals, Scherzer has been dominant against the Mets. In seven starts, he has given up eight runs and had 70 strikeouts in over 50 innings. Plus, he has a 1.60 ERA in six starts at Citi Field. This season, he is 2-1 with a 0.87 ERA in three starts against New York. James Loney is 8-for-31 against him with two home runs and eight RBI’s.
Due to Matz being on the disabled list, Lugo has filled in for him in the starting rotation. Against the Marlins on August 30, Lugo went six innings, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out four, and walked one on 89 pitches in a win.
The 26-year-old right-hander made his debut in the big leagues back on July 1 as a reliever. In three starts, Lugo only has 12 strikeouts, but he has given up five runs in 17.2 innings.
At triple-A Las Vegas, Lugo went 3-4 with a 6.50 ERA in 21 games (14 starts). According to Fangraphs, Lugo has an average velocity of 92.5 miles per hour on his fastball, but as Mike Petriello of MLB.com pointed out this week, Lugo can get some great spin on his breaking ball.
Prediction: It will be interesting to see how Lugo handles the primetime stage. But, I think the Washington Nationals get enough runs for Scherzer, who has been dominant against the Mets. The Nats win the series and take two out of three games to further widen their NL East lead.